ROBERT PINSKY: There's too much high brow writing about baseball.
And the idea of baseball as a bit sacred is corny, I know. But still,
this splendid season reminds us that there is something about the
game. Baseball combines the predictable, the ordinary, with the extraordinary
in a way that more obviously exciting sports don't. In this poem Gale
Mazer uses a bit of baseball language, a bit of language that's somewhat
divine. "Listening to Baseball in the Car for James Tate."
This morning I argued with a friend
about angels. I didn't believe
in his belief in them-- I cannot
believe they're not a metaphor.
Our argument, affectionate,
lacking an animus, went nowhere.
We promised to talk again soon.
Now, when I'm driving away
from Boston and the Red Sox
are losing, I hear the announcer
say, 'No angels in the sky today' -
baseball-ese for a cloudless afternoon,
no shadows to help a man
who waits in the outfield
staring into the August sun.
Although I know the announcer's
not a rabbi or a sage (no,
he's a sort of sage, disconsolate
philosopher of batting slumps
and injuries), still, I scan
the pale blue sky through my
polarized windshield, fervently
hopeful for my fading team
and I feel something a little
foolish, a prayerful throbbing
in my throat, and remember
being told years ago that men
are only little lower
than the angels. Floating ahead of me
at the Vermont border, I see
a few wispy, horse mane clouds
which I quietly pray will drift
down to Fenway Park, where
a demonic opponent has just
slammed another Red Sox pitch,
and the centerfielder - call him 'Jim' -
runs back, back, back,
and is shielded and doesn't lose
the white ball in the glare.
JIM LEHRER: For the record, the agony of Red Sox fans lives on.
Their team lost in the first round of the American League playoffs.
The second round begins tonight.